(Photo by Raechel Romero on Unsplash)
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because
anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and
that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
After Mary found out she was going to give birth to the Savior of the world, and that Elizabeth was pregnant in her old age, she left home to visit her cousin. She stayed for three months. When Mary came back home, she was most likely pregnant. At some point, Joseph found out. Scripture doesn't tell us how he got this information, but I'm sure it was not an easy thing to hear. He must have been devastated.
Joseph was a man of integrity. When he found out Mary was with child, he decided to call off the engagement quietly so as not to call attention to his fiance. He did not want to disgrace her. After Joseph came up with his plan, an angel visited him in a dream, and told him it was okay to take Mary as his wife for the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. They would have a son and name Him Jesus, and He would save His people from their sins. The angel told Joseph everything that is happening is to fulfill the promise given in Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." When Joseph woke up, he believed what the angel had said in the dream, and he scrapped his plan. He and Mary were married.
This story reminds me of the verse that says, "In his heart man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps" (Prov 16:9). The Lord had a different plan in mind for Joseph. I'm sure when Joseph found out Mary was pregnant, he was confused and heartbroken. I doubt it ever occurred to him that Mary might be the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14; I'm sure Joseph didn't consider that maybe his fiance was the virgin that would give birth to the Savior. So he did the only wise thing he could do. He decided to break off the engagement. Until the angel came to Joseph and explained the situation, Joseph had no idea. At that point, he had a choice to make. Would he believe what the angel was saying or would he decide the dream was just a dream and let it go? Would Joseph think what the angel said in the dream was too far-fetched and couldn't possibly be true? Or did he already know what the Scripture foretold? If he did, then the angel's message was at least plausible. Maybe he looked up the Scripture just to be sure.
That's the way it is in our lives too. We are living life and doing our best to honor God, and then something happens that throws us off course. Our life is altered in some way. We only see what is in front of us, but God sees the bigger picture. If we know what the Bible says, and we are listening for the Holy Spirit to speak, God will let us know what we need to know. Not the whole plan but only what is necessary for us to move forward. We come to a crisis of belief: will we believe what God is saying or will we continue only to see what is in front of us; what is logical, and what makes the most sense? Suppose Joseph didn't believe the angel because it was too far-fetched? Imagine if he needed more proof than an angel speaking a message in a dream? What if Joseph thought God would never choose them, and therefore wouldn't let himself believe it was true? These are all questions we may ask ourselves when something unusual happens to us that doesn't make sense.
What does it boil down to? Faith. Faith in what we know about God and what we hear when He is speaking to us. Consider the following verse:
"Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Rom 10:17) We can only have faith in what we have heard.
First Joseph heard the angel, and then he had the opportunity to have faith. He didn't have to have blind faith for the angel spoke a former promise given in Scripture. When you know what the Word of God says, you too, are hearing and have the opportunity to have faith. God will never speak contrary to His Word, and the Bible has many promises for us. There are over 3000 promises in Scripture, and 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ." This verse alone should cause us to want to know what the Bible says.
What is one promise that has been meaningful to you? I would love for you to share it in the comment section below.
Chris August: Jesus, Savior (song)